Study of sexual harassment in academia

A Systematic Look at a Serial Problem: Sexual Harassment of Students by University Faculty” seeks to cut through the noise with data, analyzing nearly 300 faculty-student harassment cases for commonalities. The study, which focused on complaints by graduate students, led to two major findings: most faculty harassers are accused of physical, not verbal, harassment, and more than half of cases — 53 percent — involve alleged serial harassers.

For more, go here.

Be her, too

You probably saw one of the memes about August Landmesser, whose failure to do the Nazi salute is memorialised in a famous photo that is part of the Topography of Terror exhibition in Berlin.

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In the same exhibit I saw a much less famous picture.  I don’t know who this woman is.  But someone needs to make a meme.  Surely the expression on her face gives one plenty to work with.

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“Passing the Trash”

A really important story from Tyler Kingkade at Buzzfeed.

Federal law requires universities to take certain steps when dealing with sexual misconduct on campus, and if it’s a case involving two students, schools have to disclose the outcome in writing to the accuser and to the accused. But there’s no similar requirement that they disclose what happens to faculty who are accused of harassment. Too often, critics say, schools agree to keep such accusations quiet if employees resign and go elsewhere. The system is known as “passing the trash,” and in higher education, the “trash” often refers to high-profile professors who bring status and money to universities that either ignore or are unaware of past scandals.

Read the whole story.

Kipnis and epistemology

I continue to be deeply impressed by the work that Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa is doing on Laura Kipnis’s book.  There’s so much that’s important in this post, on the epistemological moves and assumptions that Kipnis makes.  Here’s one small sample.

When she starts talking about specific cases, Kipnis brings in more explicit epistemological assumptions. In a passage spanning pp. 66–71, Kipnis questions the methods of Joan Slavin, a Northwestern University Title IX officer who investigated allegations that Professor Peter Ludlow had gotten an undergraduate student (“Cho” is her pseudonym) drunk, pressured her to come to his apartment, and groped her. Kipnis goes over competing descriptions of several elements of the night, expressing disagreement with Slavin’s judgments of Cho’s credibility. E.g.:

For instance, according to Slavin, Ludlow told Cho that he thought she was attractive, “discussed his desire to have a romantic and sexual relationship” with her, and shared sexual information, all of which was unwelcome to her.

I’m dying to know how Slavin came to the conclusion that Ludlow wanted to have a romantic relationship with Cho. Because an evening spent drinking and going to galleries indicates a man’s desire for a relationship? If so, single women of America, your problems are over. (71)

Kipnis wonders how Slavin came to the conclusion that Ludlow said he wanted to have a romantic relationship with Cho? The obvious answer is: Cho told her. Kipnis often reaches for strange explanations for simple conclusions when she disagrees with them. Here, Slavin listened to Cho tell her that Ludlow said he wanted to have a relationship with her, and concluded that Ludlow probably told Cho that he wanted to have a relationship with her. Kipnis hypothesizes that Slavin is employing the implicit premise that an evening spent drinking and going to galleries indicates a man’s desire for a romantic relationship. This is the kind of premise one might need if young women’s testimony carries no epistemic significance. But if we don’t assume that, there’s no need to reach for such bizarrities.

I find myself thinking that the literature on epistemic injustice will soon be filled with Kipnis examples.

 

To read the whole post (and you should), go here.

Comey’s experiences and sexual harassment

An interesting analogy.

 

A man is being publicly grilled about why he was alone in a room with someone he felt was threatening him. Why didn’t he simply resign if he felt uncomfortable with what his boss was asking him to do? Why did he keep taking calls from that boss, even if he thought they were inappropriate? Why didn’t he just come out and say he would not do what the boss was asking for?

Sound familiar? As dozens of people noted immediately on Twitter, if you switch genders, that is the experience of many women in sexual harassment cases. James Comey, the former director of the F.B.I., explained to senators during today’s hearing that he felt acutely uneasy and hesitant to directly confront his boss, the president of the United States. That’s right, even a savvy Washington insider, the same height as LeBron James and no stranger to the cut and thrust of power, seemed slightly ashamed that he had not been able to do so.

New St Mary’s petition– for international support

As many of you noted, the petition to keep St Mary’s Philosophy open was only accepting UK signatures.  That one couldn’t be changed, so I’ve made a new one, here.  Please sign and share widely– this is a gem of a philosophy department.  I was so impressed on my visit to have so many undergraduates not just show up for my talk, but ask really great questions.  And I was also impressed by the sadly unusual fact that this was such a diverse audience.  This department is doing great things, that the rest of the profession could learn from.  Let’s help keep it going!